Charlie Johnston

Charlie Johnston Sweeping Vintage Cameo
Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
North Las Vegas

Describe your artistic style.
Victorian, vintage, lacey, woven.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Shapes, numbers, lace.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Sweeping Vintage Cameo Necklace

What inspired this design?
I created one called the Sweeping Majestic Rose Garden, then I saw the Fire Mountain Gems Cameo and some vintage lace that I saw at JoAnn's and thought it would be beautiful if I made several different kinds to start a series. I want to create one with my Dragonflies as well.

How did it come together? For example, did you plan it out or did it define itself once you began working?
I weaved around the Cameo first, then I put it against the lace to see how it would look, then just began to weave, playing with the crystals to see what I came up with.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
About 2 years ago when I taught myself sewing, I made the showgirl costumes for the "Rio Show in the Sky". After making 4 of them I got bored with the stringing of the beads and started weaving them. No one had to teach me, it was like I already knew and didn't know why, but it was fun so I went with the flow and this is what I do. Started as a hobby, then turned into a job that I really enjoy.

Who introduced you to beading?

Do you have an artistic background?
Yes, very much so. It's all natural. For me it comes very easy.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
I use to buy all my beads from Tim Cronkhite and Tom Triplett when they owned Vegas Beads. They introduced me to Tom's sister Chris. I found out about Fire Mountain Gems through them, but started buying through Fire Mountain Gems when Tim and Tom closed Vegas Beads.

What other hobbies do you have?
I love sewing. I will come up with a new fashion and within a year or so I will see people wearing things close to what I made.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
No, don't know of any.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry designing has a large role in my life. I have a kiosk on the military base where I sell my jewelry designs, and I teach classes at JoAnn Fabrics, so it keeps me really busy. My mind gets bored fast so I need to keep it occupied in order to relax. My beading does that for me. That is why I like creating one-of-a-kind pieces that I have designed, without the use of patterns. For some reason I like figuring out the shapes and numbers in creating new pieces combining the 5 main weaving techniques (netting, s-curve, right-angle weave, and triangle weave, and all the different peyote stitches). It started as a hobby and grew into a career.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I go to boutiques and major companies to have my jewelry put in them, as well as my website (, my kiosk where I display and sell my designs, I do some craft shows, and I teach the art of bead weaving crystal elements at JoAnn Fabrics. I wanted to do the contest with crystals but I haven't been able to yet. This will be my first one.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I make my crosses with the cancer awareness ribbons woven in them, when I sell them I want to donate half of my labor cost to their cause. We lost my mother-in-law at a young age due to her cancer, because they didn't know enough then to be able to help her. That's my way of keeping her memory alive in our hearts.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Think big, believe big, and go after your dreams. Don't ever give up, things will be tough at times but you will eventually get where you want to go if you keep trying. This job keeps you very busy with little social life, if that is not what you want, then this business is not the one for you. It is a relaxing hobby if you want to do it to make things for your family and friends. You can make some beautiful family heirlooms that can be cherished for generations to come.